Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Outdoor bath bucket

We may have left our favouirte bath bucket at home in France but we found a replacement!

Isn't it funny that Freddy (30 months) had been refusing to have a bath or shower for a while but as soon as I suggested a bath in a bucket, outside with a few toy cars thrown in the bottom he was more than willing.
You can also see that Henry (9 months) was immediately drawn to the water and he tried squeezing himself in as soon as I had taken the photo.

Incidentally, we have started adding oat flour to all of Freddy's baths in order to relieve some of the horrible discomfort from eczema, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Really, I urge you to try it if your little one is suffering, and I'd love to hear any other suggestions that you might have to try to calm itching skin naturally.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A little tour of the neighbourhood

Have you been following Jo's Neigbourhood Walk Around the World series? Well it just started a few days ago and each day we visit a different location around the world to have a little snoop around the neighbourhood. it's my turn!

So let me take you on a little photographic tour of where we are on the island of Vätö in the Swedish Archipelago of Roslagen.   You can see from Farfar's map just how many islands there are in the archipelago.  We are on the large triangular shaped island to the right of the legend.
The area is very rural and is a popular holiday destination for those living in Stockholm.  I think Swedish wooden houses are beautiful with their traditional design and special red paint.  Properties are usually made up of lots of little wooden huts as well as a main house.
The whole area is covered in lush forests with a spongy moss carpet and blueberries everywhere. 
Here is our local public beach.  Sweden has so many lakes and sea access that everyone lives close to a public beach which they use all summer long.  The children all swim in the water which the parents sit on the grass and have a little picnic (called a Fika).  It's no wonder that Swedish children learn to swim from a very young age.   Our local beach is by the sea since we are in an archipelago but the water is surprisingly warm (it can be 26 degrees) as it is so shallow.
For transport most people have a small boat to get around between the islands and a car to head back to the mainland.  In the winter the sea freezes (yes I said the SEA) and people drive their cars on the ice with special winter tyres.
Here's a Swedish post box.
And our local shop.
Here's a manhole cover (not quite as pretty as the one from Japan).
Here's a picture of the closest main town Norrtälje.  It's a lovely harbour town with cobbled streets and traditional wooden buildings.
Well that's about it for this little tour.  If you want to know more you read all of my similar posts here or just browse around. 

Also, don't forget that if you are interested in learning more about different cultures you can take part in a free Worldwide Culture Swap.

All that remains is for me to give the list of the other people participating in this neighbourhood walk so that you can learn a bit about where they are from too, including my good friend Mymy on the island if Gran Canaria.

Thanks Jo for setting up such a fun project - I've enjoyed reading about Japan for a long time from your blog. xx

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour:
June 25th – jojoebi-designs – Saitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-ra – California, USA
June 27th – little red farm – Sweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille” – Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty Lorn – East Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 5th – Adventures of a Rainbow Mama – Australia
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Midsommarstång (a large maypole!)

As I mentioned in my previous post we raised our own midsommarstång in the garden but after that we went on to a local gathering to see a much bigger stång!
Here's a video of one of the songs that we sang whilst dancing around the maypole....

Did you see Freddy?  and Henry?

Dream about the love of your life

One of the lovely Swedish midsommar traditions is for girls and young women to pick a handful of wild flowers and place them under their pillow at night in order to dream about their future husbands!

If you want to try you need to pick seven flowers (not the whole vase full below) , each a different type, then tie a little ribbon around the bunch and slip them under your pillow.  The flowers would usually be picked on the way home from the midsommar festivities.
Oh and look! Even the ducks in the background are kissing!  Freddy (30 months) must have done this as he is still really into lining things up, order and symmetry.

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Although the summer solstice was the 21st June the celebration of Swedish midsommar took place yesterday (it is always on a Friday) and it is one of the most important days in Swedish culture, second perhaps only to Christmas.

The day started with Farmor picking fresh wild flowers to decorate tables. It is also common for women to wear these flowers in a band around their head but unfortunately I didn't get time to make one.

Farfar then brought out the homemade midsommarstång (maypole) ready for it to be decorated with twigs, leaves and flowers.

Birch branches should really be used but we had a big hedge in need of a little prune so Farmor and Faster gathered up clippings and decorated the stång beautifully, adding in little wild flowers too.

Farfar dug a hole to put it in....

And Freddy (30 months) had a go too.

Then the stång was raised!

Normally the next step would be to sing and dance around the stång but we had no time for that because we were heading to the raising of an even bigger one down the road...............(to be continued).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Stockholm calling!

Things have been a little quiet on the blog for a week but not without reason.  We have just been on our annual roadtrip back to Sweden.

Travelling here takes a LONG time, especially with a baby, a toddler and a bus that won't go above 50 miles per hour, but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Each year we return to the little red sommarstuga (summer house) in Sweden to enjoy the warm summer months and live together with Farmor and Farfar (and Faster and her family too!).

I really love the summer house tradition in Sweden.  It is quite common for families to come together each summer to enjoy multigenerational living, the great outdoors and many many summer traditions that I hope to share with you. 
These types of houses are very common in the Swedish countryside and almost all families have some kind of access to a summer house, this of course is in sharp contrast to the English use of the word which conjures up images of well to do families holidaying in their posh second homes.

When I first came to Sweden I remember being extremely surprised by the climate and the fact that usually Swedish summers are warmer and drier than in the UK.   My mum struggles to comprehend this and I completely understand why when you look at a map and see how far north we are here, but I promise you mum it's warmer here than you think!
These photos were taken close to midnight the day we arrived and yet it's not dark!  That's because we are on the cusp of the summer solstice and tomorrow we will party all day to celebrate Midsommar - I'll be sure to tell you a lot more about this.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Worldwide watermelon

Readers of this blog will know that I recently dabbled in a little melon-foolery when I created a hand carved watermelon shark for my nieces and nephews.

Well since that pivotal moment I just can't look at a melon without thinking about carving it and last week I indulged my dark side and took a knife to a sweet little water melon in the name of my love of all things global.

I carved a land and water globe by sketching freehand with a permanent marker and then using a sharp vegetable knife to carve out the sea area. it's not rocket science but it's a little tricky.

I accidentally sliced away a few Caribbean islands and the equator is sitting a little on the low side but I would go so far as to say that it is geographically more accurate than the Montessori land and water globe I bought from China.

Have you had a go at this yet?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Who needs a television?

There really is no need for a TV in our house.
Henry (8.5 months) has a new 'thing' - he sneaks off when we are not looking and heads for the laundry room.  He goes inside then pushes the door closed behind him so he can be alone with the washing machine. 

He has certainly inherited his papa's calmness and contentment with being alone, and the love of electronic products is also an inherited trait from him. 

Isn't it funny how children are so fascinated by the washing machine?

Monday, 4 June 2012

Trains, trains and more trains

This was a recent visit to a French tourist attraction showcasing the famous landmarks of France in  miniature but there was only one part of it that Freddy was interested in - the train network!
Can you imagine a better place to take a 29 month old boy?
Or a 40 year old man for that matter?
Just one question: how do we make one of these on our farm??
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